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Promoting the social museum The EXPLORium Museum School for Adult Literacy at the School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Dr. M. Basham Mission.

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Presentation on theme: "Promoting the social museum The EXPLORium Museum School for Adult Literacy at the School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Dr. M. Basham Mission."— Presentation transcript:

1 promoting the social museum The EXPLORium Museum School for Adult Literacy at the School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Dr. M. Basham Mission Statement The EXPLORium Museum School program has as its central mission the utilization of biocollections, specimen digitization, and exhibits as a teaching methodology while promoting adult literacy. This in turn also allows scientific institutions and museums to fulfill their goals in creating broader impacts and in reaching diverse audiences. The program aims to align its curriculum and activities with the Common Core standards, the Next Generation science standards, and Goal 6 of NIBA (The Network Integrated Biological Alliance). NIBA suggests the need for specimen-based learning tools that focus on experiential-based learning in the areas of bioinformatics, climate change, and evolutionary sciences. This initiative has a focus on the promoting of inter-institutional collaborations between museums and agencies such as the Arizona Natural History Collections at ASU, iDigbio TCN groups such as SCAN, and other scientific agencies to enhance accessibility to biocollection content and databases with deployment of adapted curriculums into the classroom and the community at large. The Museum School for Adult literacy program is our pilot program which promotes scientific and technological literacies while offering valuable skills and potential pathways to STEM careers for adult learners studying for their GED or who are learning other basic adult literacies.

2 Potential for Action In 1975, Czech museologist Jan Jelink stated: "Museums only fully develop their potential for action when they are actually involved in the major problems of contemporary society". Museums and collections have the ability to reach diverse audiences but few realize the huge potential impact they can have in addressing societal needs such as literacy. This can only happen with an awareness that science content and data needs to be made accessible. Programs that serve adult learners are largely overlooked in spite of research that suggests that the level of literacy in parents has a direct impact to the learning progress of their children.

3 Educational Objectives of the Museum School of Biodiversity Students...  Are introduced to science via experiential hands-on experiences as presented by scientists and students in the life sciences.  Are introduced to specimen-based learning tools and innovative technologies to aid them in learning about specie diversity, taxonomy, and scientific language.  Engage in exhibit design and visual literacy by visiting exhibits at area museums which they then critique.  Are encouraged to enhance technological and research skills needed to enable them to be “curators” of their chosen species.  Apply reading comprehension skills, writing skills, critical thinking, and collaborative learning via the design and development of their exhibits.  Integrate reading comprehension, graphic literacy, writing, and math literacy skills in the displaying of data and content in their final exhibits.  Learn to analyze and conduct peer evaluations of their exhibits to assess the impact of their work.  Present their exhibits and share their knowledge at a public event hosted by a collaborating museum.  Conduct their own summative visitor studies of their exhibits.  Learn about potential pathways to a STEM career that would be further enhanced by a one on one mentorship program with students in the School of Life Sciences or collaborating museum.  Conduct formal pre and post assessments to better determine the impact of the program on various areas of competencies and skills gained.

4 A collaboration with the Rio Salado Southern Adult Learning Center Based on the educational model of Museum Schools for children, this program brings enrichment and hands-on learning to adult learners who are either pursuing their GED, gaining skills in an Adult Basic education program, or are learning English. Many of these students have never had exposure to formal science education and are representative of populations who are the least likely to visit a museum. In this program students gain hands-on experience in learning about communicating and engaging with science via field trips to area museums as well as time spent in a lab at the ASU Tempe campus. Students learn about science while gaining important literacy and job skills while being introduced to STEM careers. In 2013 undergraduate and graduate students serve as mentors while exposing adult learners to working with biocollections learning various tasks such as data entry, labeling, or digitization. Student experiences conclude with the researching and creating of an exhibit which they then teach to the general public. In the first year students participated in two events at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.


6 After spending time in the lab, field, and classroom, students research and collaborate in communicating a specific topic related to the creating of their exhibits. The students then serve as educators at a sponsoring museum or other public venue or can even create a virtual exhibit. Below students are seen participating at the Arizona Museum of Natural History at an event for homeschoolers. Linda Putnam who is an instructional coordinator participating in the program stated, “Students serving as educators is empowering...” It can also serve as an effective assessment tool in determining knowledge gained.


8 The Use of 3D Technology and Specimen-based Learning Tools InsectARium is a series of learning tools designed to engage students with collection specimens using augmented reality technology. With the InsectARium Flashcards students learn about scientific vocabulary, insect taxonomies, and other specimen data. The iPad especially has potential in helping students easily examine specimens without having to use a microscope.

9 Student-Centered and Student Created Content In developing exhibits, media, and websites, students gain needed skills in critical thinking, technology, and graphic literacy skills while learning serving as educators and communicators of science. These objectives are met by... 1. Gaining research and reading comprehension skills while researching information about a species or specimen. 2. They might upload images from a digital microscope of their specimen to create a virtual exhibit. 3. They might upload artwork of their specimen/species. 4. Gathering images, video, and audio about a species. 5. Be involved in learning and developing learning tools based on 3D technologies or via various artistic expressions and art forms. 5. Practice writing skills and gain technology skills. 6. Demonstrate critical thinking skills. 7. Create, print, or upload data, maps, or charts. 8. Be involved as a citizen scientist in contributing to image databases or by participating in an existing citizen science program and then sharing the results. 9. Teachers can evaluate resulting products as an assessment tool. 10. Provides evidence that students are learning!

10 Summative evaluation of the EXPLORium Museum School A few open-ended responses from a summative survey of 10 respondents. Science scared me... I thought was only for the very intelligent human being. But this was simplified “science” and made it more interesting and less challenging Would like more programs. Science was like being a detective or investigator. The more I learned the more I wanted to find out. I remember looking at an insect under a microscope for the first time... looking at their face and features. Would like to spend more time observing insects under a microscope...

11 Survey results continued... 50% made reference to either their lab experiences or their museum experience in their open-ended responses. This suggests that their experiences outside of the classroom may have a significant impact on learning. 50% stated that they had a desire to learn more about science and would like more programs. As for views to what extent they believed the program helped them prepare for the GED, out of 10 respondents, 80% strongly agreed or agreed that the program helped them with skills that would better prepare them for the GED exam. 100% out of the 10 respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that there was a change in their perception and interest in science post their experience in the program.

12 Museum School Mentor Program Based on previous research results further studies are needed to determine impact on student success rate and in applying new skills and areas of literacy as a result of engaging with the program, curriculum, and learning tools. In 2013 one on one mentorship programs started with several students working with School of Life Science students and volunteers. Contact Dr. Melody Basham at

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